"The musical culture of Chicago's South Side is truly significant...
no place has a musical language such as Chicago." – Chuck D, Public Enemy
STONY ISLAND: If the Streets Could Talk, This Street Would Sing...
When Louis Armstrong got off the City of New Orleans train on the Illinois Central Railroad, he landed on Chicago's Stony Island Boulevard. It was here that he went on to record with his Hot Five and Hot Seven ensembles, including such hits as Potato Head Blues, Muggles (a reference to marijuana), and West End Blues, the music of which set the standard and the agenda for jazz for many years to come.
A few years later, Gene Krupa, Mel Torme and Steve Allen were all young musicians growing up in the Stony Island neighborhood. Krupa, who went to the same South Side High School that director Andrew Davis would attend years later, broke racial barriers when, as a member of the Benny Goodman Quartet, he played alongside Teddy Wilson on piano and Lionel Hampton on vibes.
When famed Mississippi Delta blues man Muddy Waters stepped off a bus in Chicago for the first time, he also landed near Stony Island. Muddy was signed by the legendary blues/R&B/Gospel label Chess Records, and along with Chess stars Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Howlin' Wolf, defined the post war Chicago sound.
Legendary singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Curtis Mayfield was from the South Side of Chicago. Mayfield is remembered for his introduction of social consciousness into R&B and for pioneering the funk style in the 1970s. Many of his recordings with the Impressions, especially Keep on Pushin, became anthems of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and his most famous album, "Superfly," is regarded as an all-time great that influenced many and truly invented a new style of modern black music (#69 on Rolling Stone's List of 500 Greatest Albums).
Grammy Award-winners Herbie Hancock and Chaka Kahn also grew up here.
Herbie Hancock is one of jazz music's most important and influential pianists and composers. He embraced elements of rock, funk, and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz. Hancock played and performed with everyone from Miles Davis to Thomas Dolby. Along the way, he introduced the use of orchestral arrangements and synthesizers into modern jazz. In 1973, Hancock formed his own band, The Headhunters. Their self-titled debut album was a major hit and crossed over to pop audiences. He also recorded the scores for the films Death Wish, Round Midnight and others. Chaka Kahn was first recognized as the incredible lead singer for Rufus and best known for her 1984 cover of Prince's I Feel For You, and her smash hit I'm Every Woman. Chaka is an R&B singer who explored numerous musical genres including funk, disco, jazz, ballads, hip hop, adult contemporary, pop and blues standards.
Rap artist Common has always had a strong sense of place, and he gives much credit to his early experiences in Chicago as having been an important influence on his musical style. In the area around 87th Street and Stony Island, the neighborhood in which he grew up, Blacks with middle class aspirations, working-class Blacks, and young gang members lived side by side.
Check out the promo video with Chuck D